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18 Sep, 2023 16:02

Ties with Russia ‘not your business,’ African state’s president tells Macron

The Central African Republic will continue to cooperate with Moscow, Faustin Touadera has said
Ties with Russia ‘not your business,’ African state’s president tells Macron

Relations between the Central African Republic (CAR) and Russia do not concern France, President Faustin Archange Touadera, has told President Emmanuel Macron, according to a report by the French state-owned RFI news agency over the weekend.

Touadera reportedly made the comment while meeting Macron in Paris on Wednesday, while en route to Cuba for the G77 summit.

The African nation’s leader, according to his spokesperson, Albert Yaloke Mokpeme, told Macron that the CAR was cooperating “with the Russian authorities within the framework of a defense and training agreement between states,” emphasizing that other aspects of relations were “not [Paris’] business.

Last week, French President Macron met with Touadera to revive bilateral relations that had been strained for years, owing in part to the CAR's cooperation with Moscow and the presence of the Russian private military company Wagner Group.

The two leaders agreed “to continue to work together for sovereignty, stability and the conduct of positive and inclusive dialogue in the Central African Republic,” the office of the French president said in a statement.

While Touadera expressed support for stronger relations with France, he insisted on maintaining his partnership with Moscow, which is perceived as a reliable security partner by certain African countries, including Mali and Burkina Faso.

For years, Paris has faced accusations of meddling in its former African colonies’ internal affairs and criticism of French troops’ failures to combat jihadist insurgencies in the Sahel region.

Niger, where a coup in July ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, has repeatedly accused France of “blatant interference” against the new military rulers and Macron, who has reiterated his support for the deposed leader, of “perpetuating a neocolonial operation against” Nigeriens.

On Saturday, the presidential spokesperson for the CAR, also a former French colony, told RFI that Bangui authorities are highly protective of their country’s sovereignty.

We are not setting conditions in our bilateral relations... If we have to work in complete confidence with our traditional partner, which is France, we will work on the reality of what we are experiencing and what we want for our country,” Mokpeme added.